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As the world continues to mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela, the South African government has announced funeral plans for the man they call Madiba. The first black president of South Africa died on Thursday at age 95.
Mandela’s death was first announced to the world by South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma. “Our nation has lost its greatest son,” he said during a televised speech. “His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him our love.”
U.S. President Barack Obama, who cited Mandela as an influence on his political career, also made a statement, saying that Mandela now “belongs to the ages.”
In a statement today, Zuma announced how his country plans to celebrate Mandela’s life over the next 10 days, before he is laid to rest on Dec. 15. in his home village of Qunu.
First, this Sunday will be a “national day of prayer and reflection,” Zuma said. “We call upon all our people to gather in halls, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and in their homes for prayer services and meditation, reflecting on the life of Madiba and his contribution to our country and the world.”
A full week of events is planned for next week, starting with a memorial service at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium. Then, from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, Mandela’s body will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the country’s capital.
CNN notes that FNB Stadium is where Mandela made his final public appearance, during the 2010 World Cup final. A White House official told CNN that Obama is making arrangements to attend the memorial.
“Once again we thank all South Africans for the dignity, respect and the support that has been provided to the Mandela family, from the period of Madiba's illness to his eventual passing,” Zuma said. “The outpouring of love that we experienced locally and abroad was unprecedented. It demonstrates the calibre of leader that was Madiba.”
image: Wikimedia Commons